Two Warriors of Vigilance have been killed, the first combat deaths.
There are also non-combatants who are dying. We can salute
them now. We can shed a tear of sorrow to water the Seeds of
Vigilance. We can salute Peace by standing up for Vigilance, and
remembering the blood of those who are dying in Iraq is fertilizing
the future of peace--if, we stand up for the Principles of Vigilance.
22, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 556
Marines Die--Saluting Sentinels Of Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 22-- This morning I awoke to the war
news. It was 4:11 a.m., my private writing time when the
Great New York City sleeps.
are killed in battle
As of this time there were two official
combat deaths. Two Marines dead. A number of other
American and British troops were killed in operational accidents,
helicopters crashing or colliding, but these are not classed as combat
I thought of the Iraqi Wall, or the Baghdad
Wall, or whatever the name of the monument might be that may one day
be built to inscribe the names of those who die in this battle, this
Gulf War II, this Operation Liberty designed to free the people of
Iraq from Saddam Hussein's tyranny.
attacking the Beast of Terror in Iraq
Yesterday, there was a video tape of Iraqis tearing down a
picture of Saddam, symbolic of the toppling of the statue of Lenin in
Moscow Square, or the blowing up of the Nazi swastika during WWII in
There are symbols of oppression, reminders
that tyranny seeks to extol its own virtues by idolizing itself.
A sign of Freedom is when these icons are removed by the people in
whose shadows they cowered.
The first Marine to die was from the
First Marine Division, my old division that landed in Vietnam to
spearhead the war there three decades ago. He was mortally
wounded securing an oil pumping station with his platoon in southern
Iraq. The second Marine was killed taking the port of Umm
Qasr. He was with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
One day, when the wall or monument is
built, these two Marines' names will, or should, lead the list.
They are commonly called the "first blood of war."
Currently, the second largest city in Iraq, Basra, is under
attack. I assume there will be more casualties, more
But there are two deaths that
represent the alpha and omega of any war--the first and the last.
We salute those who died. The salute for the dead is
respectful. You bring you hand to your forehead in a slow,
deliberate manner, measuring the hand movement an inch at a time so
the world recognizes you are saluting not just the fallen one, but all
who fell before, and all who will fall after.
I salute my
friends and all "victims of war"
I was taken by the news this morning.
I stood and slowly saluted,
remembering my friends who had died, some 58,000 in Vietnam, and over
1.7 million since World War I. I saluted not just the
warriors who fought with guns, but the non-combatants. My
friend Lt. Vince Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest, carried no weapons but
crawled out in battle to help the wounded. He received the
Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery posthumously.
I saluted him also.
I also saluted all the "victims
of war." In Vietnam there were some 2 million casualties of the
war. I did not neglect them in my salute.
I also offered my salute to the
60 million deaths of civilians and military during WWII.
(For more data on WWII casualties use this link--Casualties
In Iraq, there will be
casualties and deaths of both military and civilians.
So far, we've launched 1,000
missiles, carrying payloads of 1,000 pounds of TNT, over one billion
pounds of destruction unleashed.
This doesn't count all the
bullets and air strikes.
Our weapons, fortunately, can
be guided within 7 feet of their targets, limiting the "victims of
war." While the precision of weapons cannot totally
control the deaths of the innocent, it does limit unnecessary deaths.
The Horror of
I try to wade through the dead bodies of war. I try
to see past the horror of war's destruction and see the future, the
result of war.
I try to see the price of
It isn't easy.
Sometimes, the blood both
warriors and the innocent blinds one to the purpose of war, for the
horror of it all far surpasses what will sprout from the bones of the
Right now, the battle is against tyranny.
Allied forces initially laid waste to the Presidential Palaces in
Baghdad, attempting to force the Iraqi military commands to
capitulate, to surrender to avoid utter destruction.
The sooner that happens, the
fewer casualties will occur, the fewer deaths of both warriors and
Once Iraq is freed from the
hands of oppression, the blood that soaks into its sand will hopefully
fertilize a land of Liberty, a place where the children can be free to
protest their leaders without fear of reprisal, where the citizens can
become Parents and Loved Ones of Vigilance and shout out their dismay
over actions of their government they deem counter-productive to the
safety and security of their Children's Children's Children.
If there is a price of war,
then that price is worth the cost, for the safety of the future of the
Iraqi children to live free is worth every ounce of blood spilled.
As I listen to the news media
speaking about casualties, it concerns me that they do not cite the
ratio of civilians to the military. I believe it is
important to consider those who die in the center of the sandwich of
war deserve as much honor as the warriors themselves.
of War's ugliness
Historically, that ratio is at least 20 to 1. Hopefully,
our smart bombs will lower that ratio.
But when walls of tribute are built
in the future, we shouldn't neglect the non-combatants when such
monuments are raised.
At Ground Zero, nearly 3,000
non-combatants were killed. Their names were read into history.
I hope we read the names of those in Iraq who died, who, like the
innocent in the World Trade Center and Flight 93, and in the Pentagon,
were victims of war's ugliness.
And most of all, I hope the fruits of
war will grow strong in Iraq, and that Freedom and Liberty will evolve
into Vigilance, so that all the citizens of Iraq and the world can
stand as a model of how to avoid the next war, by avoiding the tyranny
and oppression of others over them.
Join me and
salute the dead of Iraq and all those who have died in past
I salute all
the Sentinels of Vigilance. The two Marines who
died, and the nameless, faceless Iraqis who are dying.
May their names and faces be embossed in our minds as
Sentinels of Vigilance for they have joined the other
Sentinels of Vigilance, reminding us all to protect the
future we must face the Beast of Terror before he grows
into the monster we are attacking in Iraq.
You can honor them now, before any walls or monuments
are built. You can stand up and stiffen your back.
You can slowly raise your right hand up to your forehead
in a measured tribute to them. You can salute the
dead of Iraq, and all who have died in the past, and let
your salute be your first act as a Parent or Citizen of
And, it's okay
to let a tear fall.
Know that our
tears of sorrow water the seeds of Vigilance.
Mar. 21--Splitting Hairs From The
Beast of Protest Terror
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